I can't tell you how many times I've downloaded some software, expected to install it in seconds and be using it immediately, only to be harassed during the installation process to install all kinds of third-party crap:

XYZ is not installed. Do you want to install it now?

And if I answer "yes", it typically opens up some webpage where I have to figure out how to download some crap that I have no interest in. Frequently, this is related to ".NET Framework" or "Visual C++ Redistributable" something. Or it's "Python" or "Perl" or "Yasm" or something else like that.

If you are "lucky", it will at least download and install straight from the installer, but even then, it's distracting and annoying.

Even as a computer nerd and software developer, I don't get why this is necessary. Why don't they bundle whatever they need inside the actual application? Why put the burden on the user to deal with all this messy development-related stuff?

Especially when it comes to .NET and Visual C++ stuff, that's by Microsoft. Wouldn't all such "updated DLLs" be installed with Windows updates? What is the point of having compiled binaries and C++-programmed software if they still need to constantly download extra "distributables"?

I'd love to understand this, but so far, I've been unable to. Why can't the installer include anything required for the software to run, or even better: why can't they use stuff that is actually available in the OS rather than requiring separate installers?

  • 1
    Because they are lazy. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Oct 10 '20 at 17:00
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Is that something you have evidence for? Wouldn't industrious programmers led by bottom-line oriented management be a more sensible conclusion? After all, the members of your profession aren't all lazy, are they? – user4894 Oct 10 '20 at 21:33
  • 3
    Shouldn't you ask software developers on Stack Overflow? – Conifold Oct 10 '20 at 22:05
  • I believe this belongs on Stack Overflow, not Philosophy. However, if I may offer a bit of pre answer, how certain are you that we don't use existing software? You'd be astonished at how many libraries can be needed to accomplish a goal. You only see a few of them. – Cort Ammon Oct 11 '20 at 2:07
  • 1
    You're lucky you are getting a helpful response like "XYZ is not installed. Do you want to install it now?" In the bad old days your program would just have failed to run and you would have been left to work out why. But now I'm starting to sound like the four Yorkshiremen. – Bumble Oct 11 '20 at 2:43

I think that a lot of free-of-charge software is written by people for their own use, and released to the public on the principle that it's a net benefit to the world to release it. If you give them flak, it's possible that they'll put more effort into catering to the people who complained about their act of altruism, but it's also possible they'll decide that future releases aren't worth the trouble.

For-profit corporations also develop software for in-house use and sometimes release it to the public. These releases don't help their bottom line, but may be good PR. If you publicly shame them for not bundling a high-quality installer, they may decide that the bad PR outweighs the good and stop releasing free software at all.

Then there's for-profit ad-supported free-of-charge software, but if you were talking about that then I suppose you'd be complaining about the ads. And there's software you actually have to pay for, but in that case I suppose you'd be complaining about the cost.

You could file a bug report. Try to be nice, and think about things from the developer's perspective. Maybe they didn't realize the software requires the redistributable since they already have it installed. Maybe they don't know how to bundle it with the installer. You could research how to do that, and explain it in the bug report. They you'd have done your part to help improve the software instead of just asking someone else to do it.

Personally, I installed the redistributables long ago, and I'm happy that I don't have to download redundant copies of them with every installer, but to each their own.

  • They obviously do realise what’s going on because their installer asks you to install the software. If they didn’t realise, the software would just not work. – gnasher729 Oct 11 '20 at 19:31

In my experience with programmers, their most common error is assuming that their end users are just as savvy, clever and knowledgeable as they are, and they omit that extra fluff & stuff because it is so "obvious" to them. But you and I know it rarely is that obvious to us.

  • I would suggest that you know amateurs, not professional software developers. – gnasher729 Oct 11 '20 at 19:24
  • Quote by Billy Joel: “I know many excellent business men who can’t sing”. A professional software developer will know what that means. – gnasher729 Oct 11 '20 at 19:33

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